Best Pianists of All Time

The Top TenXW

1Yanni

The other comments pretty much say it all! I have been a Yanni fan for over 25 years and have been to as many concerts as I can get to. In April 2011, we saw him followed by an unheard-of tour the very next year. I was lucky enough to see him twice in June 2012, to have attended my first Fan Event dinner, and especially to have inadvertently crashed rehearsal and chatted briefly with him from a distance! Meeting some of the world-class orchestra members at the dinner and finally meeting Charlie Adams after the concert made the night. Mary Simpson is from very near where I live and she was a joy. Sarah O'Brien, as lovely as always, was also generous with her time. Yoel del Sol has the most adorable smile, and they all were patient while group and individual photos were taken. Thanks also to Krystal Vinck with PR who brought "Santorini" and handed her off to my cousin who was wearing the Santorini shirt from the concert two nights before! I know Pam hated to part with Santorini! I still wish to meet Ming Freeman and, of course, Yanni himself. As he has said, "Dreams do come true. " I am a firm believer of that and am awaiting my day! He is the first musician yet to compose and play music that reaches right into my soul! Although it seems as though the American audiences won't have another tour this year as promised, I am so happy that worldwide audiences get to experience the concert LIVE. There is nothing to compare with a LIVE concert! Come back to America on tour again soon, Yanni! We all love you!

It's probably a once-a-century (or millennia) event that someone rises somewhere in the world; shoots up and keeps on going. Let's not forget that Yanni is a self-educated accomplished musician; his "musical shorthand" is an astoundingly innovative method to make oneself able to read music. He didn't stop at his inability to read conventional notes, but made his own notes to jump over that barrier -- simply amazing! And for someone who could do that, I'm not least astonished that he could come this far, to stand in the foreground of best world musicians and public performers. Yanni's psychology major is probably a contributing element in his success at conveying his music directly to the soul. Yanni you've been my #1 inspiration source and musical delight since August 1993, and still occupy that stature till this very day, 20 years later. God has indeed blessed such wonderful children of His; may He keep you both physically and spiritually, and shower you with His graces. Thank you for being Yanni.
George Afara - Lebanon.
Wait a minute; bear with me please, I have to say this: now I realize (reading Yanni's bio) why I found John Tesh's style so like Yanni's when he released "Live at Red Rocks" back in the nineties -- he toured with Yanni and Charlie Adams back in 1988. Case dismissed.

"Yanni live at the Acropolis" was his finest hour as a pianist, no doubt about that. Despite playing among the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and some world class band members, including a terrific Karen Briggs on violin, Yanni was in my opinion the best and most accomplished performer on the night. Here, he showcased all of his qualities as a pianist/keyboardist: musicality, sensitivity, technique, motoric skills, attention to detail, virtuosity, passion, accompaniment skills, courage, humility, ability to connect with the audience. Another great example of his abilities as a musician is the "In My Time" album - it's full of beautiful, deep piano solo pieces which will warm your heart and heal your soul. Yanni is without a doubt one of the best pianists of our time.

But he is crap

V130 Comments
2Franz Liszt

Stunning technical ability- outstanding musicality evidenced in his compositions- years and years of time to evidence that he did indeed leave a lasting legacy- Franz Liszt must be very highly regarded in any list of pianists.

First of all yanni on top come on man. a person with 0.1% knowledge in this field will tell you that's LIszt perhaps was and is still the best pianist of all time although chopin sir would come close but the Liszt is probably the only man till this date who has fully satisfied his girlfriends!

Yanni is a modern pianist. How can he even be compared to the classical greats? The technical brilliance and the incredible composing and improvising abilities of the virtuosic pianists of the classical and romantic era simply cannot be put against some 'nice sounding' music. With all due respect to every other musician, Beethoven is the greatest composer ever and Franz Liszt is the greatest pianist ever.

Although I like chopins music more, I still think liszt is a better pianist, with stunning technical ability.

V12 Comments
3Elton John

Elton John was accepted at Royal Music Academy at 11 for playing a thirteen sheet piece by Chopin that he had never seen before without any mistake, I believe. He kept playing pieces by heart that he had heard once. Is there anything left to be said?

Touches hearts with every key he plays. Tell me, who else can do that? He has gone down in history as a legend, an icon and an idea of beauty with his songs. He taught the entire world a lesson about the real meaning of music and that the only way to touch people's lives its playing from the heart.

Elton John has something no one else has, a perfect pianist, great singer to, by the way who is Vladimir Horowitz

I think elton john is the best Piano Player of the world

Thanks
Sanjay Gupta
9974527551

V5 Comments
4Ludwig van Beethoven

Timeless pieces, flawless execution of emotion through music... How do you beat that?

He is my favorite pianist ever!

He is a great piano player he has great piano pieces like fur Elise

Better than most of the people on this list.

V17 Comments
5Billy Joel

Billy Joel - nobody compares.

Sing us a song you're the Piano Man

He shouldn't be on this list in the first place in all honesty.
I mean, I like Billy-Boy, but his skill with pianos is third-rate, maybe second-rate, on a good day.

He's a great entertainer though.

The best of the best! - krispy

V4 Comments
6Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

It is blasphemous that mozart isn't number 1. Absolutely blasphemous.

It is all opinion. But I have to say Mozart is a master at piano.

Mozart is the beast

Mozart has to be 1st!

V10 Comments
7William Joseph

I was so fortunate to have seen William Joseph in concert. His music takes us on this great emotional journey leaving us inspired and rejuvenated. He is a great pianist, composer, songwriter and a wonderful person. He started composing at the age of five. Some of the fan favourites are his Piano Fantasy, Within, Sweet Remembrance of You. His latest collection of beloved hymns is a masterpiece. His rendition of Asturias is by far the best I've heard. If you haven't heard him yet please do watch his videos on YouTube. He is legendary and he will be remembered for generations to come.

He is the best pianist ever! His albums inspire all of his listeners, and bring such a joy to the world. I think he should be number one on this list! He is young, charming, and well rounded. My most favorite pianist ever. :-) Keep rocking it William!

William Joseph is an amazing piano player! He is passionate about it and it shows! I love his albums! They are wonderful and bring my family and I so much happiness! Plus, he is an amazing man!

No one can hold a candle to William Joseph. He is a magnificent composer, pianist and human being. I feel blessed to have met and chatted with him.

V7 Comments
8Frederic Chopin

He s obviously the greatest pianist in the world. End of Story.

Chopin always first and then we can make a "list".

Man who wrote poems with the piano

Listening to one of his pieces feels like the moment just before you fall asleep.

V8 Comments
9John Lennon

John Lennon was the greatest song writer of the 21st century. A genius in his own right but far from a top ten greatest pianist and this is coming from someone who regards Lennon as the greatest musical person of the 21st century.

John lennon? Really? TheTopTens lists always ends up being a popularity contest, smh

10Vladimir Horowitz

Horowitz is the greatest pianist, period. How on earth is it that he being beat by a music school DROPOUT. Horowitz had technically mastery, but also complete control over his dynamics. Just listen to his version of Movement 3 of the Moonlight sonata, a piece a doubt Elton John could even play.

Touch, dynamics, emotion, repertoire, range of composers with such different styles... And totally overcoming the slight handicap of being short of stature... It is almost a joke to put Yanni, Billy and Elton in the same category list wise. There should be two separate lists at least... We aren't talking about playing music you've composed yourself here, we are talking about playing the piano... I have huge respect for the others as musicians and performers and all are very good at the piano but they cannot begin to come close to Horowitz. Rubenstein maybe can... Rachmaninov maybe can... Serkin maybe can... But the others? I'm sorry... Get real.

Horowitz' touch was not of this earth. He is hands down, no pun intended the winner here.

And YANNI Before BEETHOVEN? Are you insane? Did you receive a blow to the head lately? Wow.

There isn't enough time allotted on this planet for me explain how I still feel about Horowitz.

V9 Comments

The Newcomers

?Jordan Rudess
?Jim Brickman
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The Contenders

11Oscar Peterson

I don't take anything away from Yanni! When I first seen his concert in, I knew what I wanted to do as a musician in concert! But what he does as a pianist many musicians today do very easily by ear! Art tatum is my favorite! But Yanni at number 1 is an insult to the instrument! Composing now by ear is acomplished through knowing what you want each instrument to do and executing it on the synthesizer! So Yanni discovering a new path, No he is innovative with musical concert delivery! One of the most unselfish piano synthesizer conductors ever more like it! Their are pianist that have changed how we hear the piano! Lets give their legacy more respect! Once again I love Yannis music, but number one of piano list of 125 pianist!

Fabulous technique and unique interpretation, my favourite pianist

12Sergei Rachmaninov

Rachmaninov's tonality and perfect clarity earn him the number one spot on this list (in my opinion). I think that Joel and John are talented, but really shouldn't be close to the top 5. Yanni is talented, but again, he's no where near as talented as Rachmaninov.

Furthermore, Rachmaninov's command of theory and timing is impeccable. Additionally, as seen with his predecessor Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov's use of theme and the changes thereof within a piece is so masterful it seems as if he is strategically making the audience feel a specific way, just so he can make them feel different later on.

Top 10 no doubt. The sophistication in his compositions put him right up there with Chopin for musical genius. The very young generation knows what it likes to hear fun touching music and go for mainstream. Those of us that have been around for a while know the difference between great entertainment (something that probably all pianists mentioned here can provide) and great music (that only a few have the true gift of composing and playing at the highest level).

Well... This pool shows only that mainstream music is dominating and that's why they vote for it. Of course, that Rachmaninov is the best pianist we can listen to...

What about Freddy? He himself said that he was always scared of playing piano in concerts, because of mistakes... What about Elthon John comparing for example Horowitz?..

Rachmaninov is love, Rachmaninov is life.

V14 Comments
13Josef Lhevinne

Listen to the very few recordings he made. Then decide.

Technically the best (even better than Rachmaninoff, dare I say), with beautiful musicianship. He won the Gold Medal at the Moscow Conservatory in 1892, besting fellow students Rachmaninoff and Scriabin.

14Blind Tom Wiggins
15Moriz Rosenthal
16Claude-Achille Debussy
17Jerry Lee Lewis

"The Killer" is number 1!

I could listen to Jerry Lee Lewis for hours. Chopin, Yanni, Elton John don't even come close.

18Adele Marcus
19Artur Rubinstein

This guy's an interpreting genius! He should be in the top 10, at least.

20Alicia de Larrocha
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List StatsUpdated 31 Aug 2015

1,000 votes
131 listings
5 years, 251 days old

Top Remixes (9)

1. Elton John
2. Billy Joel
3. Yanni
jrharker18
1. Yanni
2. Ludwig van Beethoven
3. Frederic Chopin
LiBertY
1. Vladimir Horowitz
2. Yuja Wang
3. Lang Lang
pianistisimma

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